How does it all work??

Ever wonder what goes into a session?

What to expect before, during and after your photo session

A photo session—whether it’s a maternity, newborn, child's milestone, or a family session—isn’t just about the day of taking pictures. The process can start weeks or even months before, and extends through a post-session process to finalize editing, retouching and product delivery. 

I'm all about creating a truly personal, truly immersive experience for my clients—and that starts with you. Here’s a step-by-step look at the process, and the important part you play in getting the best pictures:

Step 1:  Before the consultation

This is definitely one of the most fun parts of the process. Check out Pinterest for inspiration on location, poses, props and general styling. Start thinking about your style and what you’re looking for in your session. 

Family session at Leesylvania State Park

Step 2:  The consultation

Ask questions, look through my portfolio, and figure out what approach you’d like to see in your session and final prints. If you’ve found great inspiration in step #1, bring print outs or websites along! We’ll discuss how you intend to use the images — canvas artwork, framing, an album to hold all your favorite images — and help you refine the message you’re looking to convey within your session. Once you decide I'm the photographer for you, a session fee, which acts as your hold the date, and a signed contract are all you need to go forward.

Desktop Canvas

Step 3:  Finalizing the details

After we determine a location we’ll confirm a date, time and, based on that information, help you finalize apparel, props and poses. I always like to have a backup date as well because you never know when Mother Nature will change her mind on a beautiful sunny day.  Clouds in our forecast?  Even better!  Clouds are nature's own soft boxes so I can put you anywhere and not have to worry about the placement of the sun as well as colors seem to pop so much more on cloudy days!

Step 4:  The Photo session 

The day is finally here! Have fun, relax, and let your kids be kids, and you’ll naturally take better photos! 

husband and wife portrait in a field at Battlefield Manasses

Step 5: Post Processing 

This is where I'll color correct any images, maybe crop a little here, check for highlights and shadows, and do a tiny bit of retouching if needed.  Within a week after the session, I'll post a favorite to Facebook and Instagram.

Step 6:  The Reveal & Order Appointment

We’ll schedule a time about 2 weeks post-session for me to come your home and show you all the hand-edited images that you can turn into works of art.  We'll decide which portraits you want to create into wall art, which favorites you might want to turn into Mini Accordion Albums as gifts, and then gather all your favorite portraits and make a one of a kind Heirloom Album.  Your children will love looking at themselves and the rest of the family every single day.  And you'll say to yourself, "Why didn't I do this sooner?"  

Fall Wall gallery collection in a living room

Step 7: Final delivery

Turnaround time for products is based on the specific product you order.  Once your final prints/products arrive and I make sure they are absolutely perfect, I'll arrange a time to deliver them to you!  No worrying about gathering all the kids in the car again to pick up your products.  If you've ordered wall art, I'll even be happy to help hang them (as long as hubby is ok with me making the holes in the wall)!

So much more goes into a photo session than just the hour long time I spend with the camera in front of my face.  I put my heart into everything I do.  My goal is to make your time so enjoyable, you'll want all your friends to join the fun too! 

Interested in a session?  

Why sometimes an 8x10 just doesn't work

So you decided to print some of your portraits from your recent photo session or maybe that awesome picture you captured with your phone of your daughter.  That's great!  Now the big question:  what size should you print it?

Most people have heard of the universal sizes 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10.  But are those really the right sizes for your photos?  I'm here to tell you, that sometimes those sizes just don't work.

Generally, when we take portraits with a decent camera there is a specific size that the file is made into: 4x6 portrait or a 2:3 ratio.  

This is the size that comes out of most cameras, 4x6, or a 2:3 ratio.

This is the size that comes out of most cameras, 4x6, or a 2:3 ratio.

So what were to happen if you wanted to increase the size to a 5x7?  Keeping the right side of the portrait all the way over so not to lose some of dad's knee, you can see there's not that much of a difference.  You seem to crop a little closer to mom's toes, but it's still ok.

5x7 print takes off just a bit from the edge of a portrait, but not enough to make a big impact on the portrait.

5x7 print takes off just a bit from the edge of a portrait, but not enough to make a big impact on the portrait.

When you crop to an 8x10, you are changing the ratio drastically and losing 2 inches off the end of the portrait.  Mom's toes are almost to the edge of the frame and dad's knees are really close as well.

Notice how much is cut off from the original 4x6 print?  

Notice how much is cut off from the original 4x6 print?  

In these examples, because I included so much extra negative space, or empty space off to the left, creating this into an 8x10 portrait really wasn't that bad.  Unless of course the client and the photographer wanted that extra negative space in the portrait to create a visual effect.  Also remember, when you place a portrait inside a frame, you're generally losing another 1/4 inch all the way around to be able to hold it into the frame.  In this case, there would be no extra space at all.  The frame would go all the way to dad's knee and mom's toes.  But what happens when you have a portrait with no room to be cropped?

Here is a portrait with mom and baby.  I purposely photograph these portraits close for a couple reasons.  One to really show the closeness and bond between mom and baby; and two because new moms normally don't feel like showing off too much of their post-baby body.  So here's the original format, the 4x6 portrait.

The original format of the portrait shows all of baby and  a little bit of room above mom's head.

The original format of the portrait shows all of baby and  a little bit of room above mom's head.

When we crop to a 5x7, mom is slowly losing room above her head and we are cropping closer to baby's toes.

The 5x7 portrait really isn't that bad, but mom is slowly losing room above her head.

The 5x7 portrait really isn't that bad, but mom is slowly losing room above her head.

You really notice the effect of the crop when you try to print it as an 8x10.  You lose some of mom's head AND you lose baby's toes. Displayed in a frame, you would also lose another 1/4" all the way around to be able to hold it into the frame.  It would be cropped further into the top of mom's head and into baby's knee.  This is not the best way to display this portrait.

Not only do you lose baby's toes, you also cut into mom's head in the 8x10 portrait.

Not only do you lose baby's toes, you also cut into mom's head in the 8x10 portrait.

When you hire a photographer to take your portraits, you're also hiring them to help you decide which portraits should be displayed where and how.  You are hiring them for their expertise and their knowledge of how your portraits should be displayed.  Next time, ask your photographer to help you so you can display your portraits beautifully and not cropped!

To inquire about a custom experience and a photography session with Jessica LS Photography, contact her today at

10 Simple Things to do this year to stay on track during the holidays

As a mom of three children, sometimes its hard for me to manage the house, the kids, and take care of myself.  Would I love to be able to spend 1 hour per day at the gym?  Yes!  But sometimes for me, other things take priority and I get left in the wayside.  Well here are some great ways on how to stay on track, even without exercising, during the holidays!  This is a special guest blog post by a very good friend, Jesse Harris, who has actually helped me stay fit during my last pregnancy.


It’s getting to be that time of the year. You know. Holiday parties. Cookie exchanges. Fancy cocktails. New Years Eve champagne. And the Eggnog. Oh how I love the eggnog!

With so many temptations at our fingertips, how do we stay on track?
In a study conducted in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers gave scales to 3,000 participants across the US, Germany, and Japan. The results of the study showed that the largest gains were over the Christmas to New Years time frame with Americans gaining and average of 1.3lbs (Miller, 2016).
With 10 of my easy tips, we can avoid being one of those statistics, and stay on track during the holiday season. 

1.  Don't forget about your workout routine. I know with the kids being home from school, all day, for 10ish weekdays, your routine gets a little derailed. Don't let it! If your gym has childcare, drag them a long with you to your daily cycle class! Don't forget your weight training! Try to lift those weights 3x per week! If you don't belong to a gym, it doesn't have childcare, then make a point each day, whether it's in the morning or the evening, to bundle up and go outside for a walk or run. If it's dark, wear reflective gear. If it's cold, wear a hat and scarf. Once you start moving, you'll warm up. Don't neglect your workouts. They are not only for your physical health, but they are a great stress reliever!

2.  Find fitness in daily routines. To piggy back off of the above tip, make decisions that will benefit your health. For example, chose the furthest parking spot from the store. Also, take the stairs. When you're baking or preparing dinner, turn on music and dance. Just keep moving!

3.  Avoid over eating at Holiday parties. First of all, never arrive to a holiday party hungry. When you get to the party and are starving, that is a recipe for disaster. You will fill your plate with everything that isn't nailed down. When making your plate, chose foods high in protein first, then your veggies (no dip), and last, fruit. It's OK to have a piece of pie, but keep it small and don't go back for seconds. Also, try drinking a large glass of water before eating or snacking. The water will fill you up making snacking less tempting. 

4.  Come Prepared. When you go to a holiday party, nine times out of ten you're going to bring a dish to share. Make sure that your dish is a healthy one. If everything at the party is full of butter and fat, at least the dish you have made is guilt-free.

5.  When it comes to your outfit, chose something form fitting. First of all, you deserve to look and feel beautiful. As moms, it's not often we get to dress up, so let's go all out! If you're wearing that form fitting dress, the last think you're going to want to do is feel bloated. Make sure you drink plenty of water and avoid salty snacks.

6.  Cocktails. Oh the delicious, tempting, pretty cocktails. This can be a doozy because at holiday parties, there are SO many different options and concoctions to chose from! First of all, stay away from anything that has "cream". No Bailey's, no Irish Cream, no eggnog (bummer). A little sip is OK, but don't make it your "go-to" drink. You can have a glass of wine, or a lite beer, but limit yourself. When it comes to alcohol, there is no "healthy" holiday drink (other than water). The more alcohol you consume, the less control you begin to have other what you snack on. Carry around a bottle, or glass, of water. Trust me, you'll thank me the following morning when you're not hungover.

7.  When you're cooking, limit the amount of times you "taste" the food. You don't realize how many calories you actually consume while while you're sampling. If you need to taste something, make sure it's a small amount, and only once. Keep that bottle of water on hand. Each time you fill like tasting, drink up! 

8.  "I am not going to eat anything all day to save up all my calories for Thanksgiving dinner!" I have heard this statement many, many times. This is a BIG mistake. When you skip a meal(s), you become so hungry come dinnertime, that you over-eat. On Thanksgiving Day (and Christmas Day), eat a regular healthy breakfast, and a regular healthy lunch. When dinnertime rolls around, you won't be irrational with your food consumption.

9.  Smaller Plates. There have been studies conducted that people tend to over-serve on larger plates. The large the plate, the larger the food intake. Instead of using your standard 12 inch plate this holiday season, try using a 10 inch plate. There's less space to fill which equals less calories.

10.  Walk. Now that Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner is over, make it a family tradition to go for a walk post meal. This will get everyone moving, burn some extra calories, and get people away from the food (to avoid additional snacking).

Miller, S. (2016, September 21). A look at holiday weight gain in 3 countries. Retrieved October 22, 2016, from


Fit with Jesse, moms staying fit through the holiday season

Jesse Waldvogel-Harris

Jesse has been training and teaching group exercise since 2004 and has her Masters Degree in Health and Fitness Studies, and her Bachelors in Sports Management. She is also certified through various disciples including National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Senior and Youth Fitness Specialist, Sara City Workouts (SCW) Group Exercise & Moms in Motion, Cycle Fusion Indoor Cycling Level 2, American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA) Agility, Balance and Coordination Exercise Specialist; and Exercise Design Specialist. Jesse is an active blog writer for Fit Mom Strong Mom, and well as a freelance writer for her blog, Mom-spiration.
Jesse's husband is active duty Coast Guard and she is a busy mom of 3 young boys. In her spare time she enjoys gardening, boating with her family, stand-up paddleboarding, and the beach.  

If you'd like to get more information from Jesse, contact her at or follow her on Facebook FIT. Functional Individualized Training  or on IG at @waldvogelharris